Antenatal and other gentle exercises help to keep you fit, prepare you for the physical demands of labour, and speed recovery after the birth. Relaxation exercises relieve stress of the mind and the body and conserve energy to allow you to cope more effectively with labour.
You can maintain your previous level of exercise during pregnancy, but you may need to modify some exercises because you are more vulnerable to injury. Drink lots of water and try not to push your heart rate over 140beats per minute.
Exercises can help to relieve some of the discomforts of pregnancy, such as backache, and in most cases are very beneficial for both mother and baby. For example, pelvic tilt exercises are an excellent way to improve posture. Antenatal exercise classes can teach you how to exercise safely.
Certain breathing and relaxation techniques, such as massage, can help you to cope better with labour. Antenatal or yoga classes may teach you how to contract and relax muscle groups all over your body (see Relaxation exercises).
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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